Recently I was at practice participating in a race-like drill when my coach was standing at turn 4 yelling, “Fast feet! Fast feet! Fast feet!” at each skater who passed. After several times going through this drill of 1 minute races I thought, “Easier said than done.” In my ear I heard the encouraging chant of “Fast feet!” yet my legs felt increasingly heavier and harder to move. However, as SuperNova, coach of the currently undefeated Nickel City Knockouts says, “Fast feet, is not just the ability to move quick but train your brain to think in terms of urgency!”
SuperNova also stresses that fast feet refers not simply to forward motion but lateral, as well as stopping and starting within a small distance. This is very challenging on roller skates. SuperNova suggests the following drills to work on training your legs for these skills:
– Jumping side to side: making it your goal to jump faster and faster with focus on balance
– Obstacle footwork: placing foreign objects on the track and forcing the skater to use full acceleration around the obstacle to avoid it
– Weaving thru cones that are placed close together: lateral movements between cones
– Challenge every movement with equal energy: from a sprint to stop to sprint
If you’d like to see a way to practice fast feet off-skates there’s this quick video demonstrated by Quadzilla in which is moves he toes up and down (in sneakers) as fast we he can, maintaining derby stance:
Fast movement can be achieved by coupling powerful and deliberate steps with body positioning and weight redistribution. The key to fast movement is not just how fast you can move laterally from left to right but how fast you can switch from moving left to moving right. Mr. T, training coach of the Lake Effect Furies, explains how a skater can think about weight distribution: “When changing direction you can think of your legs like springs; when changing direction your lead leg takes on your weight (compressing a spring), then pushes you back in the other direction (release of the spring).”
One last consideration when focusing on the skill of improving your “fast feet” abilities is to focus on the “feet” part – and I don’t just mean a pedicure. But be sure to stretch and move, point and flex, twist and massage your feet and ankles. This will help all the muscles in your feet move better and provide for better balance and alignment.
A human foot and ankle is a strong, mechanical structure that contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The 52 bones in your feet make up one quarter of all the bones in your body. When they are out of alignment, so is the rest of your body. We put a lot of strain on our feet (and we need them to play roller derby!) so let’s not forget to give them the TLC they deserve.
Have you loved your feet today?